At Beforest, we pride ourselves at bringing back long lost things. Swimming in lakes, huge stone wells, bulls resting under the shade at noon, a night under the stars. We find ourselves focussed on the simple luxuries of life and the W.H.Davies poem that goes
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
This has been a constant north star for us. So when we started thinking about the simple pleasures of peak summer, two things stood out prominently – the humble mango and train journeys!
As kids, summer vacations were synonymous with finishing off a ‘gampa’ of mangoes and competing with cousins gathered at our village with my ammamma (maternal grand-mother) diligently watching over and ensuring a fair share. That is when it struck me that equitable distribution and fair share was such an integral part of Indian households. Ammamma made sure the elder cousins (bigger in size, with larger appetites) got more without bullying or depriving the younger ones. What is even more interesting is the differentiation between equality and equitability. This was such an aha moment and I was blown away by how these subtle aspects were ingrained at a household level of granularity.
Back then, reaching my village Shankarpally was a 4 – 5 hour affair, which included a train journey, followed by a bus ride. The travel time now is around 45 minutes from home to farm. Today, not many take the train, but I will always cherish those memories. The shorter ones were chaotic but the longer ones – trips to Ooty or Tirupati, were so much a part of the holiday with its detailed planning. Food for multiple stops, pillows, blankets, snacks, Tinkle and Chacha Choudhary comics. For journeys, where meals could not be carried, we had to coordinate with folks that lived in towns on the way. It saddens me that my next generation may never have these experiences and even if they do, I doubt they’ll look forward to it. But they have their own stories and for those like me who hold these simple joys dear, I’m glad we are able to create at least a few of those at the collectives.